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A Tale of Two Hearts

Middle-schooler, Big Bang Theory star Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting raise money for seals

by Michael Sharp

Photo by Laurie Rhodes

In the months before her bat mitzvah, 12-year-old Gabie Nealon-Shapiro went online to watch an HSUS video about Canada’s annual seal hunt. “The plight of the seals really touched my heart,” she’d say later, “and I knew I had to do something about it.”

Around that same time last spring, actress Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting was at work, browsing her Twitter feed, when she came across photos from the hunt, in which baby seals are clubbed or shot to death for their fur.

“I openly admit I had no idea this was even going on,” she’d recount later. “I felt so strongly about it, so quickly. … I felt like, at that moment, this was my cause right now. I had to say something; I had to stand up for this.”

And so they did—the middle-schooler in Manhattan and The Big Bang Theory star in Southern California. The images sparked both to take action for seals through the HSUS myHumane fundraising platform. Participants can gather donations for HSUS campaigns by hosting birthday or costume parties, running marathons or organizing other fun, nontraditional events.

That summer, at her bat mitzvah, Gabie raised almost $1,600 for the HSUS Protect Seals Campaign, which documents the hunt and works to shut down markets for seal fur.

  • Photo by Michael Kovac / Getty Images for The HSUS

“I chose seals because the idea that they are being beaten up and killed just for their fur didn’t make me happy,” she says. “It isn’t right to kill animals. In all religions, it’s a sin to kill others. Even if this may apply to people mostly, I think that it applies to any living thing. You would still be taking away a life.”

Two days later, Cuoco-Sweeting led a charity spinning event—Wheels for Seals—at SoulCycle in Beverly Hills. She promoted her myHumane page via social media as well, ultimately raising almost $2,500.

“I found this deep passion inside of me for these seals that are doing absolutely nothing wrong,” she said in the weeks leading up to her event. “People are killing them for their fur, and I think it’s disgusting. And it’s kind of what I’m living and breathing right now. It has to end.”

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